COVID-19: Mayors’ response to social, economic and community challenges

The Robert Schuman Institute in cooperation with the Eduardo Frei Foundations (Netherlands) are organizing an online panel discussion dedicated to the response to the COVID-19 spread and concurrent challenges experienced by individuals currently in city mayor positions, and their respective municipalities. Amidst the corona pandemic, implying not only public health hazard but also social, economic and community management crises, municipalities need(ed) to develop timely and adequate responses. Politicians also need to re-think the resilience and adaptation abilities of their towns, and have valid and viable contingency plans handy. Crucial role is now played by mayors as city leaders who are generally responsible for solving common problems, dealing with natural disasters and other public emergencies, and tackling social issues within their domains. 

Mayors and representatives of municipalities will be invited  to share their insight and exchange views and practices with regard to the matters of shared concern and response in relation to the coronavirus crisis. Together we will seek answers to the following questions, 

  • How do mayors’ powers under a state of emergency vary [from municipality to municipality]?
  • Have their respective administrative divisions been receiving any clear guidance/financial support from their governments towards specific measures to halt the coronavirus spread?
  • How do municipalities implement contingency planning? How are financial resources distributed? 
  • How is (should be) communication with public health officials and hospital systems organized?
  • How is public communication maintained during the time of crisis? How do local authorities disseminate information to the general public, schools, businesses, outgoing travelers, etc? Transparency and honesty and an effective antidote to fear. 
  • Do various municipalities stay connected during the crisis? Is there a program in place  that connects mayors of various cities, providing them with technical assistance and coaching to help them on COVID-19 response?
  • What it the role of your area’s external to government (nonprofits and foundations) in relief and planning efforts?
  • What kind of support is there in place for local SMEs? 

Our panelists:

  • Ingeborg ter Laak (Netherlands). She is Alderman in the municipality of Zoetermeer, a town in the metropole-region close to The Hague and Rotterdam. She is Alderman for Welfare and Care and is therefore right in the middle of dealing with this crisis in her city.
  • Elisabet Lann (Sweden). She is Deputy Mayor of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her area of expertise and responsibility includes primarily elderly care, disability rights issues, and civil society.
  • Semir Efendic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) is serving his second term as the Mayor of the Municipality of Novi Grad Sarajevo, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina in two important bodies outside the borders; he is the representative of BiH in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, on the proposal of the The Association of Municipalities and Cities in the FBIH, and he was also elected as the Co-President and the member of the Administrative Committee of the Union of Turkish World Municipalities (TDBB), which is counting more than 1,100 municipalities and cities from 28 countries around the world.

Moderator: Raluca Norel (Belgium). She is Press and Communication Officer with the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions, former Spokesperson and Press Officer with the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU. 

Target groups:

Panel: 4 selected panelists (3 speakers, individuals currently in city mayor positions, and 1 moderator). 

Audience: those interested in learning about the coronavirus pandemic impact on communities and resilience building possibilities. 

We would like to invite you to join us via Zoom meeting ( on April 28th, 2020, between 17-18h CET and participate in the discussion. The registration form can be found here: 
registration form. 

Looking forward to your applications!